The Denver Nuggets have started a four-game road trip through the Eastern Conference with back-to-back losses and the easiest stop on the four looks to be Friday at free-falling Cleveland. However, the Nuggets will be without starters Gary Harris and Paul Millsap as well as key reserve PJ Dozier again, while the status of Will Barton is listed as questionable. For the Cavs, there's a chance that five-time All-Star Kevin Love could return from a long injury absence. Denver is -8.5 on the William Hill Sportsbook NBA odds. Check out the SportsLine Projection Model's simulation of this game.
Let's start with Love first. Rebuilding Cleveland would surely like to get him on the court to build up value so the team could trade him; the Cavs already have benched another former All-Star, Andre Drummond, until they can find a trade partner for him. Love has been out late December when he aggravated a calf strain initially suffered in the preseason. Love was at practice Wednesday and reportedly looked good. It's more likely he returns Sunday but tonight is not out of the question as of this writing.
Cleveland is quite thin in the frontcourt Drummond benched and forward Larry Nance Jr. not having played since Feb. 6 due to a fractured hand and not close to returning. The Cavs have lost eight straight and 10 of 11.
What is it with the Nuggets after they beat excellent teams? Denver beat Utah 128-117 on Jan. 31 – the Jazz's only loss in the past 21 games – and then immediately lost three in a row. The Nuggets last Sunday upset LeBron James and the Lakers but have followed that with losses in Boston and Washington this week. Denver is 0-5 against the spread in its past five road games.
Millsap has missed both this week due to a right knee strain, Dozier has with a hamstring injury (he's been out since January) and Barton also has for personal reasons. Harris (adductor) missed Tuesday but played Wednesday yet managed just two points in 28 minutes. Clearly, the team doesn't think he's right if Harris is already listed as out again Friday.
The Nuggets destroyed the visiting Cavaliers 133-95 on Feb. 10 as 9.5-point favorites. Millsap (22) and Barton (16) combined for 38 points. Cleveland leading scorer Collin Sexton was an ugly 1-for-9 for four points. The Cavs won and covered the two meetings in the 2019-20 season. It was Cleveland's first sweep of the Nuggets since 2015-16.
The SportsLine Projection Model simulates every NBA game 10,000 times, and it returned over $5,000 in profit on its top-rated NBA picks last season. The model is also up more than $8,400 on top-rated NBA picks over the past two-plus seasons. Dating back to last season, it enters Week 9 of the 2020-21 NBA schedule on a stunning 83-48 roll on top-rated NBA picks against the spread. Anybody who has followed it has seen HUGE returns.